You can tell it’s the middle of Summer here in America, not because of the heat or the gas prices, but because of the news stories. I’ve noticed that the dog days of summer are often accompanied by news reporting of the most ridiculous variety. In attempts to lure viewers back indoors, lesser news outlets will promote stories that would be laughable during the regular news cycle.
This week’s attempt to wrestle the 2nd page headlines from the number of alligators wreaking havoc in Florida is the completely absurd attempt to vilify the American Olympic committee for purchasing apparel that was made in China.
That’s right, this week Senate Majority leader Harry Reid took a break from diligently solving our nations problems to point out that the United States Olympic uniforms should not just be rejected, but burned, because they should have been made in America.
While I myself would prefer that our team is outfitted by an American clothier who produces clothes in our own country like say… well… Oh wait, American Apparel still does this, I feel it necessary to point out the complete buffoonery on display regarding this issue.
Why is it wrong to clothe American athletes in uniforms produced outside the U.S. by foreign workers when a SIGNIFICANT portion of our athletes were also not produced by Americans in America?
In 2008 the United States Summer Olympic team was led into the Beijing National Stadium by Lopopo Lomong. Lomong, a member of the American distance running group, waved the flag proudly as he walked at the front of the young people representing the United States athletic endeavors in China.
Lopopo Lomong was made in the Sudan, by Sudanese parents.
What made him American was the fact that he chose to be “imported” and then was “hand-selected” by the U.S. Olympic Committee, much like the uniforms we purchased from China.
Silver Medalist Tanith Belben was produced in Canada, and was only able to compete for the United States in 2006 because of a Congressionally expedited citizenship application. In fact, this Summer’s U.S. Team will feature a Polish kayaker, A Chinese ping-ponger, a Kiwi triathlete, distance runners from Kenya, and Beijing’s gold-medal-winning equestrian from Australia.
This importation of Olympic goods and services is hardly a new trend; during the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles 27 members of the U.S. team were naturalized citizens and that number had expanded to 33 for the 2008 games in Beijing.
What if the Olympics stopped being about national origin a long, long time ago, and we didn’t realize it until somebody pointed out that our uniforms were from China?
Beyond this it’s important to keep in mind that from culinary style, to goods, to land, history records that “American” often times means, “acquired” from a previous owner and repurposed for our consumption.
Before we pretend to get bent out of shape about American athletes wearing goods produced outside America, let’s remember that this happens every year during Little League season and every day at Wal-Mart.
It’s way too late to start burning things.